A schoolteacher who entered in a relationship with a 15-year-old female student has had her headline sentence reduced by six months. 

In December 2016 the appellant was approached by the complainer who had become upset in a class. The appellant offered to respond to emails sent to her school email address out within school hours. The two developed a close relationship due to the emails exchanged and would state that they loved one another. 

The appellant and complainer would meet up on Sundays. They would go to quiet locations where they would kiss and touch each other over their clothing. However, they later began performing sexual acts with one another. In July 2017, the complainer spent 2 nights at the appellants home where they engaged in digital penetration and oral sex. 

The relationship came to an end when the complainer went to university. However, they still kept in touch. In June 2020 the complainer ended the relationship via telephone. During the conversation the appellant displayed manipulative behaviour and threatened to harm herself. This resulted in stress for the complainer, and she disclosed this information to her doctor. At this stage police became involved. 

Counsel for the appellant argued that whilst the offence was serious in nature, the appellant had no previous convictions. It was argued that in the circumstances, a non-custodial disposal would be appropriate. 

In providing the opinion of the court, Lord Matthews stated: “While each case has to be determined on its own merits, in a case of this nature involving intimate sexual contact, a custodial sentence will be well-nigh inevitable unless the circumstances are truly exceptional. That is not the case here.” 

He continued: While the appellant has expressed remorse, we note that in speaking to the author of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, she attributed a large measure of responsibility for what happened to the complainer, which is a subversion of the true position.” 

He concluded: “That having been said, there is force in the submission that the sentence was excessive. Having regard to all the circumstances, and bearing in mind the Definitive Guideline as a cross-check, we consider that the appropriate headline sentence would have been one of imprisonment for 21 months.”

The new headline sentence of 21 months was reduced to 16 months’ for the appellant’s plea of guilty